There have been some major changes to Planning legislation over the past month. This article focuses on the changes to the 1987 Use Classes Order introduced by the Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) (Amendment) (England) Regulations 2020 (SI 2020 No.757) (“The 2020 Regulations“), which were made on 20 July and will take effect on 1 September 2020, subject to saving provisions, officially termed “the material period” between 1 September 2020 and 31 July 2021.
I discuss the updates in detail below, but in summary, the main changes to the Use Classes Order are:
Use Class E subsumes aspects of three “old” Use Classes into one single grouping. The crucial point being that changes of use within the same Use Class, are not “development”. By creating a wider Use Class, far more flexibility is afforded for property owners who will be able change the use of a building to another use within the same Class E, without obtaining explicit planning permission. For example: from 1st September, a shop could now become an office under these rules, whilst previously, these uses were in two different classes. Despite the Government stating that the intention is to enable town centres to adapt to changing public need and use, there is no specific location restriction in the legislation.
Class E permits “use or part use for all or any of the following purposes”:
The addition of the “or part” wording for use class E introduces the concept that either the whole or only a part of a building or planning unit can be changed to an alternative use within class E, without planning permission.
Class F.1 incorporates the remaining parts of “old” class D1 which are not included within Class E. Class F.1 will permit any change of use within this class, not including residential use:
This new class incorporates some existing uses in Use Class D and is designed to permit changes to use in the same Use Class, of existing local community facilities. Class F.2 permits any use as:
Sui Generis meaning “of its own kind, in a class by itself” incorporates buildings which do not fit within other use classes. Sui Generis establishments usually require planning permission to change their use. Currently, this includes (amongst others) theatres, scrap yards, launderettes, casinos and taxi companies. This list has now been extended to also include: pubs, wine bars, hot food takeaways, live music venues, cinemas, concert halls, bingo and dance halls.
The implications of the changes introduced by the 2020 Regulations are potentially far-reaching. If you are in the process of submitting a planning application, awaiting a decision or require specific advice on changing the function or use of a building, please contact the planning team.